Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who has been reading this blog?

I never know who I'll find when I check my Stat Counter Recent Visitor Map. Last week I saw a visitor from Journal Communications just before Charlie linked to this post. Thanks Charlie. Everyone else, buy the book.

I post a nasty Larry Craig screed last night and look who shows up this afternoon.

PREV - NEXT | Visitor 1 of 2

IP Address
: magnify visitor
Host: Unknown
ISP: U.s. Senate Sergeant At Arms
Entry Page Time: 29th August 2007 15:12:18
Visit Length: 0 seconds
Browser: MSIE 7.0
OS: Windows XP
Resolution: 1280x1024
Location: District Of Columbia, Washington, United States United States
Returning Visits: 0
Entry Page: Headless Blogger
Exit Page: Headless Blogger
Referring URL: craig %2Bjokes&btnG=Search

I'm on Google's first page of Larry Craig joke hits. Maybe I should add a joke to that post.


I got another one today.
IP Address:
ISP: University Of California Office Of The President
Entry Page Time: 30th August 2007 17:53:54
Visit Length: 0 seconds
Browser: MSIE 7.0
OS: Windows XP
Resolution: unknown
Location: California, Oakland, United States United States
Returning Visits: 0
Entry Page: Headless Blogger
Exit Page: Headless Blogger
Referring URL:*%3AIE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7RNWE&q=larry craig jokes

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cruise food

I promised some of the people on my cruise that I'd post all of my food photos on this blog. Blogger doesn't give me that much storage, so I put them on my Webshots account. Here are some favorites.

Carpaccio of beef tenderloin.

Proscuito & brie panini.

My wife's favorite meal, baked sole.

Osso Buco.

Good looking dessert.

What ever happened to living in your own private Idaho?

"I am not gay."

Come on Larry, that ain't how it works. Let's go to an apt analogy.

If you drop a turd in a glass of water, you don't have a glass of water. You don't
even have a glass of partially treated sewage. What you have is a glass of crap.

Similarly, if you voluntarily engage in certain sexual activities with members of your same gender, you are not straight. You are not even fulfilling a fantasy. You are a gay-American.

Beyond that, Larry Craig is a sleaze.

A few points.

Uno. Mark Stein posted this in the Corner today

A reader writes:

All of the easy Larry Craig jokes aside ...

So Larry Craig was looking through the cracks in the stalls, moving his hands oddly and tapping his foot in the airport bathroom and was arrested because such behavior fits the profile of someone looking to engage in bathroom sex. OK.

But isn't there actually a serious policy question here about why we're willing to let law enforcement use profiling to apprehend and prevent creeps from getting it on in the airport bathroom but not willing to let law enforcement use profiling to apprehend and prevent terrorists from getting on an airplane?

I take your point. If Senator Craig had gone into the stall, rolled out his prayer mat, yelled "Allahu Akbar!" and been observed attempting to weaponize the ballcock, the undercover cop would have shrugged, "Do I really want to get stuck with another four-week stint in Sensitivity Training hell?" and gone about his business.

Nonetheless, while I'm all for making lemonade out of lemons, I'm not sure it will help for the GOP to start going around saying, "See? This proves that profiling works." Best to stick to the easy jokes. We now return you to the Singing Senators and "Goodnight, Ladies".

This is particularly relevant considering that the two activities occurring at the same MSP airport. Terrorist-emulating imams are good. Homosexuals, not so good.

Dos. The Captain points out that nothing that Craig did was in and of itself a crime or lewd behavior. His commentary misses by comparing Craig's actions to prostitution, which is a specific crime different from peeping and disorderly conduct.

However, having sex in a public location is a crime and should be punished in order to deter it. I am aware that there are private parts of the White House, but I believe that the Oval Office is within the public portion of the building. Oh yeah, we learned 10 years ago that we should not be concerned with sexual behavior between consenting adults ...

By the time he reaches high school, every American male knows the rules for behavior in the men's room.
  • No eye contact.
  • No conversations.
  • Do not occupy a stall or urinal next to one that is occupied, except as a last resort.
Follow these rules and you will stay out of Larry Craig's kind of trouble almost 100% of the time.

The description of the undercover police officer's behavior breaks those rules. He says he saw Senator Craig looking at him. The only reason to make eye contact in the men's room is if you are looking for a boyfriend. If sleazebag Craig looked through the door crack at me, I would not longingly return his gaze. I would clearly respond with hand gestures and a vocal outburst that would send him scampering down the terminal.

What the undercover officer did violated the norms of heterosexual bathroom behavior. This was done in order to send the message to Craig that he was willing to engage in homosexual sex with him.
That is entrapment.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Balanced article in MJS - Oh my!

Dan Egan's analysis in todays Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel parallels the point I tried to make in this post regarding increased effluents discharged from the BP refinery in Indiana.

Company officials say public criticism has been so overwhelming they will not take advantage of a permit that would have allowed them to increase the amount of ammonia and "suspended solids" dumped daily into the lake. Illinois politicians were among the first to pounce after the State of Indiana gave the plan the green light in June, and the furor quickly spread to Congress. In July, the House passed a toothless resolution that called for "an end to dumping in the Great Lakes."

"This Congress will not simply stand by while our Great Lakes are treated like a dumping zone," proclaimed resolution co-sponsor Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).

It was good political theater, but the reality is the outrage never matched the threat; the amount of pollution BP planned to add to the lake wasn't even a dribble compared with the toxic insults the lake has suffered historically and continues to suffer today.

"I haven't seen anything yet where anybody has demonstrated or shown on paper - when you look at the entire lake, or even locally - that there is going to be a problem as a result of this discharge," Bruce Baker, deputy water administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said two days before BP backed off.

An excellent piece. Read it all.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wild bear video

The guide for the eagle raft float on the Tsirku River in Alaska urged our group of adventurers to avoid eating farm raised salmon. I have only eaten wild salmon for the last several years because wild salmon is far superior in flavor and texture compared to farm raised salmon.

Our guide stressed the health reasons for favoring wild salmon. Farm raised salmon can contain toxins and carcinogens. It also contains more fat & calories and less Omega-3 fats than the wild salmon varieties. The Pure Salmon Campaign provides additional information on the relative benefits of wild salmon.

And now my shameless wild animal connection and opportunity to show my home movie ...

This black bear endorses wild salmon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The new 'hyphen' group


Who are they? According to this story in the weekly MKE entertainment publication they include:
  • An art gallery "Executive Director"/freelance artist
  • A freelance makeup artist
  • A bartender
These people are the reason for Wisconsin's proposed $15+ billion Democratic-Socialist healthcare program. These people need health insurance and they say that they cannot afford it. And we are supposed to kill even more of the state's economy because they can't.

What have they got in common?
  1. They are young. And unlike this old, cancerous, cholesterol laden blogger, they can readily purchase health insurance. And they can buy it cheap. Did it really say $150 per month?
  2. They have the ability to under report their income. Freelance anything or bartender means a large part of their income is on a cash basis and possibly tips. And I'm sure every penny going in and out of that art gallery gets reported.
  3. They don't have real jobs. They are living their dreams and expect everyone else to pay for it.

My point about under reporting income is that the WI-Commie health plan is paid with a payroll tax. This 15% will only be paid on income that is reported, and this 15% confiscation is an even greater incentive not to report those tips. Most of the rest of us do not have that option.

For these three, the 7.5% employee share of the $30,000 or so that they report amounts to about $2250. But for a family with two $75,000 salaries and $7,500 in health insurance costs, Wisconsin will now be withholding $11,250.

So the result is that my theoretical family will pay over $3,500 more each year so that Mikey and Brittany can be artistic. But these kids will be hit too, paying $450 more than if they bought the private health insurance that is available to them now.

This MKE article shows the lie of the Michael Moore propaganda. Health insurance is available to these uninsured-Americans. They just choose not to pay for it. And the private policies they can buy now are less costly than what they will be charged if the Senate Democrats and Jim Doyle get their way.

It is time for these children to grow up and get real jobs. Or at least be responsible and pay for their own insurance.

Update: Jack Lohman points out in comments that the employee portion of the proposed health insurance tax will be 4% on payroll Therefore the tax comparisons I posted above are all crap. He references as his source.

However, I did use a high value for the present policy cost for my theoretical family. Their break-even cost would be a present payment of $500 per month for insurance. (For my personal situation, the proposed plan would represent a large reduction in my health insurance costs over my current policy, with lower out-of-pocket expenses.) I’ll make no comparison of the quality of medical care offered in the two scenarios.

I stand by my conclusion that the majority of uninsured-Americans are uninsured by the personal choices they make in employment and lifestyle.


I heard this on WIND-AM this morning, and had to look it up.


BP dumps mercury in lake

Refinery has been exempt -- and new permit gives it 5 more years

Although the federal government ordered states more than a decade ago to dramatically limit mercury discharges into the Great Lakes, the BP refinery in northwest Indiana will be allowed to continue pouring small amounts of the toxic metal into Lake Michigan for at least another five years.

A little-noticed exemption in BP's controversial new state water permit gives the oil company until 2012 to meet strict federal limits on mercury discharges. In documents, Indiana regulators predict the refinery won't be able to comply and will ask to continue polluting after that date.

Money graph ...

Federal records analyzed by the Tribune show BP puts 2 pounds of mercury into the lake every year from its sprawling plant 3 miles southeast of Chicago in Whiting, Ind. That amount is small compared with the mercury that falls into the water from air pollution, but mercury builds up in the environment and is so toxic that even tiny drops can threaten fish and people.

Crap ain't mercury and mercury ain't crap, but come-on:

A mix of sewage and storm water from combined sewers in central Milwaukee and Shorewood began flowing into Milwaukee's rivers and Lake Michigan around 5:15 a.m. today, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District officials said.

[ ... ]

Sanitary sewers must be allowed to drain to the tunnels to prevent municipal sewers from backing up into basements of residences and businesses.

I love this line:

"We do everything possible to protect people's basements," Shafer said.

Even at the expense of clean water in Lake Michigan? I think not. Paraphrasing, that amount is massive compared with the feces released by fish, lake birds, boaters, and businesses, but fecal matter builds up in the environment and is so toxic that even huge discharges can threaten fish and people.

"We do everything possible to protect a reliable source of motor fuels," Headless said.

I guess it all comes down to priorities.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Whale gone wild

After much frustration, I finally figured out how to upload video to YouTube. This is the tail-end (pun intended) of a performance by a humpback whale that I camcorded from the superior verandah of my suite on the ms Zuiderdam. I don't know why the whale is doing this, a bad case of gas may be a possibility.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The rules don't apply

The Captain comments on this report of CBS skirting child labor laws for their Kid Nation "reality" series.

New Mexico's child protection services are not amused. They have indicated that had they known CBS had set up a residential facility for the children, they would have taken steps to ensure that CBS followed the law. In fact, the network never bothered to contact the Children, Youth and Families Department. The state sent a labor inspector to the set, but the producers didn't allow an inspection to occur, according to New Mexico.

This takes child exploitation back to 1930s Hollywood. Regardless of whether CBS thinks this was some grand sociological experiment, the bottom line is that they had these kids working in harsh and apparently somewhat unsafe conditions for fifteen or more hours a day. They provided little adult supervision -- in fact, that was the point of the production -- and no educational support, even though this took place during a school year.

This is not an isolated occurrence for the entertainment industry. Ignoring laws and regulations that other industries must follow seems to be their norm. I don't know if this is by statute, oversight or bribe, but OSHA and other safety regulations do not apply when entertainment is involved.

The Beyonce video is one example. Improper footwear and a stairway lacking handrails would result in citation and fines from OSHA for my business. But not here, this is entertainment. The ESPN skateboarder dropping 40 feet off the ramp also comes to mind - no tie-offs or fall protection was evident. I don't even know where to begin with professional wrestling.

It is easy to favor intrusive government regulation when the rules don't apply to you. Big Entertainment must be held to the same standards as everyone else.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Borat & Homer

I had heard talk of this news, but thought it was a joke. I read something today at NEI Nuclear Notes that made me look it up.
TOKYO (AFP) - Kazakhstan is to pay 486.3 million dollars to buy a stake in US nuclear reactor firm Westinghouse from its majority owner Toshiba, news reports said Saturday.

The Japanese giant will sign an agreement this month to sell a 10-percent stake in Westinghouse to state-run uranium firm Kazatomprom for slightly more than 60 billion yen, the Nikkei newspaper said.

By forging ties with uranium-rich Kazakhstan Toshiba, which holds a 77-percent stake in Westinghouse, aims to secure stable supplies of the resource used by power plants, Jiji Press said.

Toshiba expects to win more orders to build power facilities from power companies in the United States and elsewhere by having Kazatomprom in its alliance and securing a long-term supply of uranium, the Nikkei added.

The tie-up will also help Kazatomprom expand its sales channels worldwide and accelerate mining projects, the Nikkei said.

Borat will be joining Homer Simpson as another example of nuclear excellence.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Geraldo is right. O'Reilly is wrong.

The point to be made in the case of the execution killer is that the judicial system is broken in New Jersey. Child rapists should be held without bail, period. No questions asked. The fact that this guy is an illegal alien is secondary.
A Peruvian national in the U.S. illegally and who was previously charged with raping a 5-year-old girl pleaded not guilty Friday in the execution-style slayings of three young college students, a day after he surrendered to the Newark mayor.

Jose Carranza, 28, aka Jose La Chira, entered his plea before Essex County Superior Court Judge Michael Casale. A second suspect, a 15-year-old boy, has been held pending a detention hearing, and authorities said more arrests were "imminent."
But it also seems that the entire legal process is set up to provide more leniency to non-citizens illegally in the U.S. than it does to U.S. citizens.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Trout habitat bleg

I read this article in Smithsonian magazine about reintroduction of trout to long dead streams in the Western U.S. and wondered if trout could live in the creek running through my property.

Pertinent Information:
The creek is spring fed with at least one mile protected as a nature area in a municipal park and a deeded conservancy area through my land. However, the creek also runs between several quarries and farm fields, and receives upstream discharge from a sewerage processing plant.

The stream bed is predominantly rock & stone due to the minimal top soil covering the Lannon stone base in this area.

Following several days of heavy rain in early August, the water temperature is 73 degrees (F) with local air temperature of 82 (although it is 89 in the sun nearby). I postulate that the water temperature is close to the annual peak.

The water is fairly clear, looking like this as compared to tap water.

Are there any trout experts reading this blog that can tell me if this creek viable as a trout stream?

Thank you for any help.

Learning lessons

The Captain points out a Cleveland Plain Dealer report this morning that the 35W bridge collapse was similar to a bridge failure in Ohio 11 years ago.
Eleven years earlier, the eastbound I-90 bridge over the Grand River in Lake County failed. The reason: the same steel plates, called gussets. They had corroded, then buckled after crews blasted them during painting preparations. ...

The spans are Warren truss bridges, made of diagonal compression members joined by gussets. Both bridges are nonredundant, meaning that if one part fractures, the whole structure can fall down. At the time of the failures, both bridges had work crews and equipment weighing them down.
With awareness of this previous failure, the Minnesota DOT should have factored this "Operating Experience" into their planning for repair of the 35W span. I suspect that the information was not readily available or shared between various state structural design organizations. However, if this Ohio information was available to the Minnesota engineers and ignored, it would be criminally negligent.

Operating Experience or OE is a nuclear industry term for bad sh!+ that happens at nuclear plants that should be considered by operators of other nuclear units. OE has been shared for decades through the regulator as well as voluntarily through industry group such as INPO.

The structural engineers at various DOT's should learn some lessons about lesson learning from the nuclear industry.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Alaskan wildlife

Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) spotted near the ms Zuiderdam.

Humpback whale
(Megaptera novaeangliae). It is hard to photograph the slapping tail, although I got decent video of it.

Black wolf
, at least that is what the raft guide called it. I think this is actually a dark version of Canis lupus, the gray wolf.

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), we saw 22 different bald eagles on our trip down the Tsirku River. The river is opaque with glacial silt released from the Tsirku Glacier near Haines.

River raft guide (Ursus ceepeeus), proprietor of CP's Facial Glacial (featuring glacial silt) and an all around interesting fellow.

Killer whale (
Orcinus orca) dorsal fin photographed near Vancouver Island.

Black bear (Ursus americanus) fishing for spawning pink salmon.

"This sal fellow is a douche."

So says Nicki.

I was checking out my blog-hit map and following some of the referring links when I came upon this one. Cool, I thought. They are quoting me in disparaging terms and linking to my blog. I have made the big time.

The posting was in response to Sal DeTraglia's trip report from WDW (Sal's original blog post which included my witty comment is mysteriously missing). As I scrolled through the comments that "sal fellow" line jumped out at me. I am so jealous.

In the long comments thread there are many that assume that Sal is a jerk Spaniard, not knowing that he is really a jerk ex-pat Flatlander. Interesting stuff going on in there. I hope it isn't too late to join the fun.

Note to Sal - I was going to email this link to you, but I do not have your contact information. Please email me at cminion at earthlink dot net. I may have a not-so-virtual Tapas Bar opportunity coming up in Santander. Cheers.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

The best shore excursion, ever.

Update: Thanks to Wendy from Taquan Air for pointing out that I had the incorrect shore excursion listed. It has been corrected.

Taquan Air describes it thusly:
Alaska Bear Adventure

Experience the thrill of taking off from the Ketchikan waterfront by floatplane with a veteran Alaska bush pilot, on this unique wildlife expedition only available to a small number of visitors. Your pilot will guide you to a remote site in the Tongass National Forest noted for its salmon rich streams and abundant wildlife. A 20-minute flight takes you by historic homesteads and over the sparkling waters of Alaska's fabled Inside Passage. View an unfolding landscape of forested mountains and pristine lakes on your way to our choice remote viewing location.

Few forest locations in North America offer the wildlife viewing opportunities found here! Upon landing you will be met by an Alaskan naturalist, and driven approximately one mile by van, along a forest road, to a trailhead. A pleasant and short hike along an improved trail leads to a viewing platform overlooking a beautiful salmon spawning stream. Along the way, your guide will identify the variety of vegetation that flourishes in this rich rain-forest environment.

From the viewing platform, you will look down on stunning rapids as the fast flowing creek cascades towards the sea and the large numbers of salmon in the stream congregate to complete their spawning journey. This is where black bear gather to feed on runs of pink, Coho, and Chum salmon, as they head upstream to spawn. Bald eagles perch in the surrounding trees waiting for fish scraps left by the bears. In addition, a variety of birds, Sitka black-tailed deer, mink and marten frequent the area.
I found the flights onboard the DeHavilland Beaver to be a thrill of their own. We came in low over the trees and had bears sighted by the pilot.

Upon landing on Prince of Wales Island, we were transported to a stream that was full of pink salmon struggling upstream to spawn. At these small rapids the fish filled the small area of calm water.

The pinks (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha, also known as the "humpback" or "humpy" salmon) would then try to jump through and over the rapids.

Eventually Usrus americanus emerged to feed, approximately 100 feet from our wooden platform on the opposite bank.

This black bear took three attempts to snag a salmon in his jaws and then climbed back into the brush to feed.

The return flight to Ketchikam offered more beautiful views. Even these photos through the windshield turned out great.

The weather was outstanding for our trip. We were told several times how lucky we were with the weather we had all week.

Many thanks to our island guide, Jim Diamond, and our bush pilots from Taquan Air for this great experience.

Crappy Airports - YVR

So I'm struggling through the Vancouver Airport yesterday, 30 minutes waiting for my luggage to arrive from the ship, another 30 minutes waiting for USAirways to open their check-in gate, 20 minutes in the queue to reach and clear Customs & Immigration and then total confusion. Then they have 20 to 30 C&I gates immediately funnel down to 2 stations for depositing checked bags, only one of which is working.

I finally get past the bag drop and some joker comes barging through the line, "I don't have any
bags to check, let me through. They said I could go ahead if I don't check my bags."

This seemed to be working very well for him until he got to me. I bluntly told him (my wife said I yelled) that we all only had carry-ons at this point and that he should get his butt in line. He fell into line behind me and told me to calm down.

"Calm down" to me is like "Chicken" to one of the male members of the McFly family. I was an hour and a half into this mess, this jerk decides that lines don't apply to him, and I should calm down. I loudly, but calmly, said to my wife that I'm not the one that smells like the inside of a Tanqueray bottle at 11:00 a.m. and don't need to calm down.

My wife got pissy with me the rest of the way through that line. Only when we make it through security did she tell that the guy I yelled at was TV actor Miguel Ferrer. I thought he looked vaguely familiar, but it didn't click for me. Today I learned that he is regularly traveling to Vancouver to film a TV series, so I call bullshit on his excuse for barging through the lines. He knew how the line worked better than any of us tourists.

Warning to terrorists: Don't even think of jumping the queue if I am ahead of you.